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Cross-cultural differences in emotion suppression in everyday interactions

Authors

  • Sylvia Huwaë,

    Corresponding author
    1. Tilburg Center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Sylvia Huwaë, Tilburg Center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), Tilburg University, PO Box 90153 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands. (E-mail: Z.N.Huwae@uvt.nl).

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  • Juliette Schaafsma

    1. Tilburg Center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
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  • Sylvia Huwaë and Juliette Schaafsma were both involved in the conception and design of the study, the analysis and interpretation of the data and in drafting the article. Sylvia Huwaë was responsible for data collection. This research was partially supported by the Province of Noord-Brabant (the Netherlands). We are grateful to Richelle Portier for her help in collecting and processing the data. We also thank Yan Gu, Hua Nie, Yu Gu and Hoi Ching Mui for their help in translating the questionnaires, and Emiel Krahmer for his constructive comments on this article.

Abstract

Previous research suggests that in collectivistic cultures, people tend to suppress their emotions more than in individualistic cultures. Little research, however, has explored cross-cultural differences in emotion regulation in everyday interactions. Using a daily social interaction method, we examined whether people from collectivistic backgrounds (Chinese exchange students and immigrants from the Moluccas, Indonesia) living in the Netherlands differed from those from individualistic backgrounds (Dutch natives) in emotion suppression during everyday interactions. We also examined whether this depended on their relationship with the interaction partner(s). We found that Chinese participants suppressed positive and negative emotions more than Dutch and Moluccan participants and that this was related to differences in interdependent and independent self-construal across the samples. We also found that Chinese participants suppressed positive emotions less in interactions with close others, whereas Dutch participants suppressed negative emotions more with non-close others. No such differences were found for Moluccans. Our findings support the idea that people from collectivistic cultures suppress emotions more than those from individualistic cultures, but they also suggest that this depends on who the interaction partner is. Furthermore, they suggest that emotion suppression may change when people with collectivistic backgrounds have been raised in individualistic cultures.

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